SQIFF announces 2019 programme

Scottish Queer International Film Festival is back with a programme featuring a celebration of ballroom culture, Latinx legends and Janelle Monáe

Feature by Jamie Dunn | 28 Aug 2019
  • Janelle Monáe – Dirty Computer

In the space of four editions, the Scottish Queer International Film Festival has proven itself to be one of the most vibrant and forward-thinking events on Scotland’s busy film calendar. It’s back for its fifth edition this autumn with a typically eclectic programme that’s both political and playful, with events ranging from a celebration of ballroom culture to programmes looking at queerness and religion to a night of queer porn made by and about deaf and disabled people.

The festival opens on 2 October with a fifth birthday party centred around a screening of international short films featuring “queers coming together, sharing love, and fighting hard for our rights”.

SQIFF will be celebrating Latin American queer art and activism in a Latinx Legends strand. The Queen of Lapa’s focus is Luana Muniz, one of Brazil’s best-known trans personalities, and the documentary follows her story as a larger-than-life actress, cabaret performer, activist and sex worker. We also like the look of doc Cassandro the Exotico! Shot on 16mm over the course of five years, it follows Marie Losier, a lucha libre wrestler known for his “extravagant gayness” and equally spectacular wrestling moves.

Image: Cassandro the Exotico!

We love the sound of SQIFF’s closing night dedicated to Janelle Monáe. As well as a rare big-screen showing of her nightmarish visual album Dirty Computer, a dystopian sci-fi in which Monáe features as Jane 57821, a woman whose past relationship with Zen (Tessa Thompson) is being erased from her memory, the screening is followed by a listening party featuring Dirty Computer in its entirety, with additional music from artists who have inspired Monáe.

There’s more partying planned with SQIFF’s look at the thriving ballroom culture of contemporary Europe. In Fabulous, Lasseindra Ninja returns to her home of Guyana to introduce voguing to its LGBTQ community, while Father Figure follows Guilliano, founding father of The Kiki House of Angels, and his friends as they share experiences of homophobia and racism in the Netherlands, and explain how voguing provides them an escape.

One of the most eye-catching aspects of this year’s SQIFF is the You Gotta Have Faith strand, which we’re told will look at “queerness and religion from a 21st-century standpoint”. Expect a series of shorts reflecting queer Islamic life and a discussion on personal faith between award-winning trans playwright Jo Clifford, LGBTQIA+ Muslim charity Imaan, and Rev Jane Clarke from Glasgow’s LGBT+ Metropolitan Community Churches. The strand also includes a screening of Walt Davis’ softcore pornographic horror opus Evil Come, Evil Go.

What’s that you say? Porn in a film festival? One thing that has set SQIFF apart from its very beginning is its sex-positive attitude and its embracing of porn as an art form, and at their Sexxxy Beasts and Wheelchairs event, you can enjoy a night of queer porn made by and about deaf and disabled people.

There’s plenty more going on besides, including a special screening of Before Stonewall to mark 50 years since the Stonewall Riots, a VR and Interactive Exhibition at Glasgow Women’s Library, and a singalong screening of Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast. “We really hope everyone, queer people and allies, will feel welcome to come along and feel part of the Festival,” says SQIFF’s festival co-ordinator Helen Wright. 

SQIFF runs in various venues, Glasgow, 2-6 Oct. For full details, head to: sqiff.org